A little more than two weeks after the blockbuster trade that sent P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators, the All-Star defenseman finally had his official introduction to his new team on Monday afternoon.
During his introductory press conference Subban spoke at length about his excitement to join the Predators where he will “have the chance to win a Stanley Cup.”
And make no mistake about it, he is definitely going to have that chance in Nashville.
The Predators were already one of the top teams in the Western Conference even before adding one of the league’s best and most dynamic defenders. In the immediate aftermath of the trade — which might be the biggest transaction in the history of the Predators franchise — the expectations for what the team is capable of have only increased.
With that in mind, Subban was asked about his expectations and goals for the upcoming season. He said he isn’t really interested in projections and wants to have an opportunity to sit down with the coaching staff and to get a clearer picture of what they expect from him as far as his role is concerned.
He acknowledged that even though his top job as a defenseman is to help keep the puck out of his team’s net, he is also looking forward to impacting the offense.
He also added that he isn’t trying to be Shea Weber or replace him because they are different players.
And that is what might be the most intriguing part about this entire situation for Subban and the Predators. It could give us the opportunity to see what he is really capable of in a system that might not only better suit his skill, but also as part of a defense that has the type of talent around him that should better complement him.
During his recent years in Montreal, the team’s system under coach Michel Therrien wasn’t really geared toward a fast, puck-moving game. It was at times about making the safe play and not taking any unnecessary chances, while the unit as a whole wasn’t always the most skilled group with the puck.
The situation he is going to now is almost a complete 180.
This is a Nashville team where coach Pete Laviolette plays a more aggressive and up-tempo style, while the defense is not only one of the youngest groups in the league, but also one of the best. Subban said on Monday that is excited about the opportunity to play with a fast-moving defense and that not many teams in the league have four players that can skate the way he, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm can. The NHL is clearly drifting toward more mobile players on the blue line and the Predators seem to be ahead of the curve with this current group where Subban, having just turned 27 a couple of months ago, is one of the oldest players.
Subban said it is going to be a little different not having anybody older than him at the position, but that there comes a time in your career that “you have to take that jump.”
The Predators, as of this moment, are the only team in the NHL that will not have a defenseman older than 28 on their opening night roster.
That is part of what makes them such a fascinating team in the aftermath of this trade. It’s not only a great defense, it’s a defense that fits the current NHL style of play where every player is either in the prime of their career at this moment, or still has room to improve.